U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans ruled Monday that businesses harmed by the 2012 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico should not be required to prove their economic losses were caused by the disaster, as BP (NYSE:BP) had requested. Steve Herman and Jim Roy, leaders of a group of plaintiffs’ lawyers overseeing the court-determined settlement fund, wrote in an email to Bloomberg that, “Business owners across the Gulf should be pleased that Judge Barbier once again rejected BP’s efforts to rewrite history and the settlement.”
The history of the settlement is a complex one. In May 2012, BP and the lawyers for the individuals and businesses harmed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill reached an accord to settled the class action lawsuit. Instead of the $20-billion fund created by BP, the agreement called for the court to administer the compensation payments to those Gulf Coast residents or businesses who endured the months-long oil leak that befouled beaches, killed wildlife, and disrupted the economies of their states.
At that time, the company — which had already paid more than $6 billion from the original fund to about 200,000 individuals and businesses — estimated that payouts related to plaintiffs’ claims would cost just $7.8 billion. But, by late October, that estimate had been increased to $9.2 billion, and by the calculations of court-appointed administrator Patrick Juneau, approximately $3.81 billion has been paid out to 40,371 spill claimants.